Q. I don’t know if you feel the strain of the extra workload with the relief appearances or you’re in such a zone in the playoffs that you’ll worry about that later? PATRICK CORBIN: This time worked out pretty well for us being able to throw Game 1 and then having three full days off. Being available for 2 but kind of worked out great not being able to get in there. I didn’t throw at all. So I was able to do my same routine, everything that I would have done. A little ways from my last start, too.
Everything feels great, ready to go.
Q. Understanding that you’re still in the moment here, do you anticipate adjusting your offseason throwing program just to account for all this extra work? PATRICK CORBIN: Yeah, I guess I haven’t really thought about it too much. But I’m sure I’ll probably push it back a little bit.
Q. How has Dave helped players relax and try to keep the pressure off throughout all this? Have you noticed any change in his demeanor at all since he came back from the heart procedure? PATRICK CORBIN: I feel like he’s been the same guy for us all year. A leader for us. Somebody who really has trust in his players. And we truly believe that.
Beginning of the season when things weren’t going right, he didn’t panic, he didn’t do anything differently. We just continued to try to get better every day. And pretty much the same thing now. I feel like everyone is relaxed and even at this highest level of…
Q. (No microphone.) PATRICK CORBIN: I don’t know, he’s just kind of himself, really. Every day is the same. And that’s how I think we all treat it here, we try to, at least. He doesn’t panic. He doesn’t make us do more or less. He just tries to put us in the best position to do our job well.
Q. Over the weekend the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center played the Baby Shark song. You see it in the stands, you guys do it on the bases. What has that done for the team to have that type of gimmick, for lack of a better word? PATRICK CORBIN: It’s blown up pretty big. Everyone seems to be doing it. People are wearing shark outfits. It’s like Halloween out there. It’s great.
I’ve gotten to play with Parra before, and having him back here I knew he’d be an energy boost and somebody that would have fun. You could see what he’s doing with other guys on the team who maybe aren’t so — with Stras, giving him those hugs and everything else he does for him. Just brings the energy to this team. He’s great to have.
Q. How difficult was it for you not to get something done with the Yankees and could you ever have thought that it would turn out like this coming here? PATRICK CORBIN: I honestly haven’t thought too much about it. No regrets. I obviously loved every second here. I always tell everybody I feel like I’ve been here longer, just such a great clubhouse, great people to be around every day. Really enjoy it here.
The big reason was to come here and make it to the World Series and win a World Series. I knew the guys in here were capable of doing it. It’s a great team and we’ve just put things together really well.
Q. I know you try and treat all your starts the same, every day the same, but you’re going to start the World Series game tomorrow. Is it possible to still be that way or is it any different the way you’re thinking about it, waking up tomorrow? PATRICK CORBIN: These are games I want to pitch in. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to go out there and help us win a ball game. This is what you prepare for all offseason, to pitch in these games and just to have the opportunity to go out there, give it my best.
I’m looking forward to it. I’m going to try to keep everything the same. I’m sure I’ll be excited. But I’m really looking forward to it.
Q. When you and Zack were together in Arizona, is there one thing that he taught you or you take away to this day that has helped you become the pitcher you are? PATRICK CORBIN: Yeah, Zack’s preparation is probably the best in the game. There’s a couple of guys here, too, as well, with Max and Stras and An�bal, those guys as well.
That’s the big thing with some of these older pitchers, Zack doesn’t throw as hard as he did when he first came up, but he knows how it to pitch. I think that’s huge being able to learn myself how to do things better out there.
Q. Have you been able to talk to him since the World Series started? PATRICK CORBIN: Yeah, I talked to him a little bit in Houston. A lot of guys who I’ve played with, we’ve gone through a couple of levels here and being able to play against somebody else, it’s great.
Q. This starting rotation, how much do you guys push one another? How healthy is that? And what does it say about the success you’ve had coming down the stretch and especially in this postseason? PATRICK CORBIN: Yeah, it’s great. We all root for each other. I feel like that’s something that’s not always easy. Guys might seem like it but we really do. We try to help each other, when we’re pitching or when we’re not pitching. And I think it’s pretty special to be on a team that does stuff like that.
Q. Jeff was just in here for 20 minutes, and obviously you guys are in the middle of the World Series, we asked you about this a couple of days ago, what impact has everything going on had on your team that’s trying to win games in the World Series, impact on you and just everything surrounding what’s going on? AJ HINCH: Yeah, I appreciate the question. I think a lot — people have spoken on this. I’ve spoken on this, I addressed it right away. Jeff just spoke.
I don’t know the answer. I think anything that I say, I don’t want it to be construed as taking away what the Nats have done – they’ve outplayed us, that’s the bottom line in this.
We’re very sensitive as a club to everything that’s gone on. But I would like — we’ve got our hands full getting to Game 3 and getting a win in this series and getting at least two out of the next three in order for us to get this series back to Houston. So I don’t think we’ll know until we get well into the offseason and kind of process all this.
But I continue to be disappointed and just sorry that it happened.
Q. On another topic, how are you weighing Alvarez in the outfield, home plate versus the outfield? AJ HINCH: Yeah, that’s always hard. And I remember getting this question in the middle of the season when Yordan came up and we went to a couple of National League ballparks, I played him in left field. And there was always this question about, Hey, if you’re in the World Series you’re going to need him in the outfield. I’m like, Hey, just give me that problem, and now I have that problem. Be careful what you wish for, but it’s a good problem to have.
I do like the at-bats he’s had specifically in the last game or two. The balance of where to play defense, where to keep your weapons on the bench, playing a National League game where you anticipate a few pinch-hits, having some resources on the bench in order for a big at-bat. I put Tucker in that at-bat yesterday with first and second with Strasburg at the end of his outing.
I’m weighing all of that. This is a really big left field, and I’m taking into consideration that. So we’ve talked about it a little bit. I can probably talk myself in and out of every scenario.
I don’t think we play all three games here without him seeing the outfield. I’m not sure that will be tomorrow. Right now I’m kind of leaning against it. But I’ll make that decision when I have to.
Q. How tough is it to take his bat out of the lineup given how well he’s been hitting in the series? AJ HINCH: Look, I think it’s always important to balance that. It’s important as it can be unless we don’t make a play in the outfield and I’ve got two guys out of position and we give up runs that way.
Again, those are the nature of tough issues or tough problems. While I think we need as much offense as we can get, certainly with runners in scoring position. I think it also is smart when you’re facing a team like the Nats that put the ball in play, that challenge you with an up-tempo, fast style of play, there’s the other side of the ball, as well.
So I’m valuing how much defense — if I’ve got to play three to six innings of defense in order to get those two at-bats that you’re referring or do I wait for the big at-bat and have him pinch-hit. That’s the nature of managing, I’ll have to make that decision.
Q. Whether it’s base running or hitting with runners in scoring position, what are the areas that you think you guys just absolutely need to do better here in Washington? AJ HINCH: I’m not sure I would drag base running into it. I think we’ve made a couple of aggressive mistakes, but not necessarily see that as a problem.
And I think winning the at-bats when the game can turn is critical. They’ve done a good job of making contact. They’ve done a good job of finding holes. I think we’ve put up some competitive at-bats in those situations, but not always coming through with the big base hit.
What to do more or what to change. We’re competing. We’re trying to win the at-bat. And I remember early in the series when Michael Brantley smokes a ball down the left field line and he makes a running catch, that’s not bad hitting, that’s not necessarily even plus defense, that’s just baseball.
It’s hard unless you go through every single scenario where you feel like you have to maximize your opportunities. I just think we’ve got to be better across the board in putting more pressure on them and maybe separating ourselves a little bit and having them feel what it’s like to have a big inning put up against them.
Q. Correa said last night there was a players-only meeting. What do you think the benefit could be of that in the aftermath? AJ HINCH: I think the players-only component of that is a touch aggressive. I think they were just players talking in a group. I asked the guys about it, because I heard about it. Guys trying to pick each other up. I think guys are trying to fight for the season. It’s a seven-game series, four you have to win. They’ve won two and a lot of questions are coming our way as if — yes, it’s an uphill battle, but it’s not impossible. Not when you have the best record in baseball over the course of 162 games.
I assume that was a little bit more of what it was. In talking to a couple of the guys I would temper a little bit of the players-only dramatic meeting that everybody loves to ask about whenever we lose a couple of games. I think it was the players picking up players.
Q. Do you think there’s an element of shock with the group, 100-plus wins and getting to the World Series, lose both at home, giving up 12 the other night? AJ HINCH: I don’t think shock because we respect the Nats and what they bring. And we faced Scherzer and Strasburg. We battled them pretty tough. We had about a hit or two away from the things you guys have to talk about, and ask about, and write about, being completely different.
So I think we’re still optimistic. We understand that we missed a couple of opportunities to win at home, certainly with our big boys pitching.
But to be around our club is to know that our club has a lot of confidence and we have a lot of resilience. A week ago we lost Game 1 to the Yankees and they were going to sweep us. We have to bounce back in this ballpark similar to how we did at Yankee Stadium, and put pressure back on the Nats to have to try to close it out.
Q. Last time Greinke pitched he was hit with both trash talking and trash throwing over his social anxiety. Are you concerned that will resurrect itself tomorrow? AJ HINCH: I hope not. There’s no place for that. We’ve talked this week about there’s no place for a lot of things in our game, and that’s certainly another thing that we could be better as a whole and an industry to avoid piling on anyone’s issues.
And Zack is terrific at handling it. He compartmentalizes all that. It was unfortunate that he’s faced that before. But I have no fear or concern, like you asked, that the environment here, while it will be pro Nationals and very enthusiastic toward rooting against us, that’s not a problem. But I would like everybody to keep it clean, sure.
Q. You talked about aggressiveness, because you’ve won so many games playing loose, free, and aggressive. Any indication of pressing at all from your guys? AJ HINCH: Dramatic pause. Zero. (Laughter.)
Q. What type of feel did you get around your guys getting on the plane, getting here, just kind of getting that read? AJ HINCH: We’re ready to play. This is a group of guys that have won a lot of games. And I understand that everybody wants the pressure put on us. That’s great. We’ve responded great to pressure. I understand they have a 2-0 lead. Their view of the finish line is a little closer than ours.
But I wonder what everybody will feel like if we can win Game 3? And all of a sudden it flips a little bit. And all of a sudden we put up a few runs. And all of a sudden you can write that we’re back in it.
I sense our players will be ready to play. It won’t be easy. An�bal S�nchez is throwing the ball well. This lineup has found a way to catch momentum and be really tough at putting them away.
So it’s the World Series. It’s two of the best teams in the League competing to try to get to four wins. I understand that. But there’s no gloom and doom with us. We’ve got to try to do better. We’ve got an opportunity to do it in Game 3 and absolutely flip any sort of perceived momentum in our direction.
Q. Is there any level of concern with Ryan Pressly? Do you think his struggles are related to the knee at all? AJ HINCH: You know what, no concern because I trust him and I believe in him. Execution’s always key. I actually thought he made better pitches the other night than he did even prior to that in the postseason.
So I’m not sure which one of you put out there, but I got to read — all those hits were pretty low contact, low velocity. And so I don’t think — he wasn’t beat around the ballpark. They found some holes. They put up good at-bats. They made contact. And they put up a couple of runs.
This is not a time to hang your head. This is not a time to abandon your players or have fear or concern. I’m going to try to put him in a better position to be successful. But we’re going to need him to pitch well for us to win four games.
Q. When you guys were playing the Yankees, I noticed that there was more pressure, more of that sense of pressure on the Yankees’ side than on the Astros’ side even in that first game. What is it about this team that helps them to stay in that calm mentality and just enjoy the game? AJ HINCH: Well, we’ve been there. I think I get asked a lot about experience. We’ve got a lot of guys that have been there. We’ve got great leadership in the clubhouse. We’ve got some experiences to draw from whether we’ve been questioned or whether we’ve been beat.
It’s even funny, go back into this season, we won our franchise record number of games, but we still had a number about of losing streaks where I would sit in a chair similar to this and ask what’s wrong with this team. That’s just the way it is. So I think our guys are used to having questions like that with anything that’s gone wrong at all.
You win the World Series, the next time you lose a game you get asked, is everything okay? And the more experience you get with that the more you feel comfortable in your own skin. I think our players believe in themselves. I think they believe in the teammate next to them. We have a good process in place to game plan against the Nats. Now we have two games to learn from where they’ve played pretty well. And our guys believe we’re going to win the World Series.
Q. What are the different ways different guys go about alleviating the pressure at times like this? AJ HINCH: That’s assuming we have pressure. I didn’t even admit that we have pressure.
Q. It’s mostly self pressure. AJ HINCH: You telling me I’ve got pressure. I don’t feel that guys have to alleviate anything. If anything I’ve got to figure out a way to get these guys to 8:00 Eastern tomorrow night without bouncing off the walls in the hotel room ready to play. These guys are real guys in there.
Funny, last time I was here I was managing the All-Star Game. And then I look in our room and I look around and a lot of those guys were here. I’ve got a room full of All-Stars. And All-Stars that have played well in times of winning and times of losing. I don’t think there’s a lot of pressure for us to alleviate. I think we have to win Game 3.
Q. I know you’d rather have the DH. Does Zack’s ability to swing the bat a little bit, does that change the way you might manage a situation? AJ HINCH: I’m glad that Zack’s here. We put him in Game 3 mostly because he’s behind JV and Gerrit. But it does help that Game 3 here is in the National League city and he’s familiar with the bat and he can move things around.
That dilemma — it’s a little different in the playoffs. In a regular season game you would say, Hey, that helps me in that 5th and 6th inning decision when a guy can handle the bat, maybe squeeze a couple innings out of him.
I’ll have to determine whether that’s worth it at the point — at that juncture of the game given that it’s a World Series game. I can move guys a little bit. We can hit and run. He can bunt. He’s a very, very smart baseball player.
So I guess we’ll see if it changes how I manage his at-bats and where we are when he gets up to bat. That fifth-, sixth-inning, seventh-inning dilemma when the pitcher’s spot comes up, it’s still the same dilemma whether Zack can hit or if I have a guy up there, to remain nameless, who can’t hit.
SCOTIABANK ARENA (TORONTO, ON) ▪ TV: SPORTSNET ONTARIO ▪ RADIO: SPORTSNET 590 THE FAN
MAPLE LEAFS HISTORY versus SAN JOSE
23-21-5-2 (51 Games)
ALL-TIME at HOME:
14-9-2-2 (27 Games)
MAPLE LEAFS CAREER LEADERS versus SAN JOSE
Jake Muzzin (29), Jason Spezza (22), Nick Shore (16)
John Tavares (7), Auston Matthews (6), Jason Spezza (3)
Jason Spezza (14), John Tavares (12), Jake Muzzin (8)
John Tavares (19), Jason Spezza (17), Jake Muzzin (10)
Jake Muzzin (31), Four players tied (6)
MAPLE LEAFS – SHARKS TEAM STATS
GOALS FOR (Rank):
GOALS AGAINST (Rank):
POWER PLAY [%] (Rank):
8/32 [25.0%] (t-9th)
9/35 [27.5%] (8th)
PENALTY KILL [%] (Rank):
30/38 [78.9%] (20th)
32/35 [91.4%] (1st)
5-on-5 SHOT ATTEMPTS FOR (Rank):
5-on-5 SHOT ATTEMPT % (Rank):
FACEOFF % (Rank):
MAPLE LEAFS – SHARKS NOTES
November 4, 1991 (Toronto 4, San Jose 1)
23-21-5-2 (51 Games)
ALL-TIME RECORD AT HOME:
14-9-2-2 (27 Games)
ALL-TIME RECORD ON THE ROAD:
9-12-3-0 (24 Games)
LAST WIN VS. OPPONENT:
November 28, 2018 in Toronto (Toronto 5, San Jose 3)
MAPLE LEAFS MILESTONES vs. SHARKS
100th game as a Maple Leaf (Jan. 4, 2018 vs. SJS)
100th NHL point (Dec. 1, 2018 (OTT) vs. SJS)
First career NHL point (Jan. 21, 2015 (LAK) at SJS)
MAPLE LEAFS LEADERS
9 (Marner, Rielly)
POWER PLAY POINTS
5-on-5 SHOT ATTEMPT %
TOI PER GAME
PP TOI PER GAME
SH TOI PER GAME
MAPLE LEAFS NOTABLES
– Frederik Andersen has made 15 career appearances against San Jose and posted a 5-8-1 record with a 2.66 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage.
– Tyson Barrie is one of four NHL defencemen to have been on the ice for over 190 shot attempts for. His 28 shots on goal are tied for the 10th-most among NHL defencemen.
– Cody Ceci is tied for seventh in the NHL in blocked shots (25). He is fifth among NHL skaters in shorthanded time on ice (40:44).
– Frederik Gauthier has started 5.0 percent of his 5-on-5 shifts in the offensive zone, which is the second-lowest mark among NHL centres who have appeared in multiple games behind teammate Nick Shore.
– Andreas Johnsson has recorded seven points (2-5-7) in seven games on home ice this season. He has recorded 41 (20 goals, 21 assists) of his 53 career points at home.
– Kasperi Kapanen is one of three NHL right wingers (Rickard Rakell, Reilly Smith) to have recorded multiple shorthanded points this season. He is the only NHL right winger to have multiple shorthanded goals.
– Alex Kerfoot had three assists in three games against San Jose in 2018-19. The Maple Leafs have a 5-on-5 shot attempt percentage of 52.9 percent when leading with Kerfoot on the ice, which is the highest percentage among Toronto centres who have appeared in each game this season.
– Mitch Marner is tied for sixth among NHL skaters in power play points (2-4-6). His 19:53 time on ice per game average is the fourth-highest average among NHL right wingers. His six primary assists are tied for the eighth-most in the NHL.
– Auston Matthews is third in the NHL in goals (8) and is for second in the NHL lead in even-strength goals (6) through 11 games in 2019-20. He is tied for third among NHL skaters in shots on goal (43). He has won 57.9 percent (62 won, 45 lost) of his even-strength faceoffs.
– Ilya Mikheyev ranks third in points among rookie skaters (3-4-7). He leads all rookies in shorthanded ice time (29:31)
– Trevor Moore leads NHL rookies in hits (25) and is tied for sixth among NHL rookies in takeaways (6). He is one of four rookies with over 20 shots on goal (21).
– Jake Muzzin is averaging 30.3 shifts per game, which is tied for highest average among all NHL skaters. He has been on the ice for the most 5-on-5 shot attempts-for among all NHL skaters (207).
– William Nylander has taken his shots from an average distance of 24.2 feet from goal, which is tied for the 13th-closest mark among NHL skaters who have recorded at least 20 shots on goal.
– Morgan Rielly is tied for third among NHL defencemen in points (2-9-11). His 25:01 time on ice per game average is the eighth-highest mark in the NHL He sits third in the NHL in shifts per game (30).
– Nick Shore has the fourth-highest defensive zone faceoff win percentage (61.3% – 38 won, 24 lost) among NHL skaters who have won at least 30 defensive zone draws.
CURRENT POINT STREAKS
Has goals (2) and points (2-1-3) in two consecutive games.
Q. The Astros have a history of picking up tipped pitches and sort of being able to get an edge on pitchers in various ways. How much do you have to adjust how you go about things when you know the team on the other side is particularly good at picking up on those things? ANIBAL SANCHEZ: I don’t try to pay attention too much about that. I think they pretty smart on those situations.
Cover your signs or protect your pitching is part of the everyday pitching situations. So I don’t want to say if you tip your pitch, it’s something that they’re going to pick right away and they’re going to do some damage. But if you protect all the kind of stuff, you don’t have to worry about it.
Q. It’s been a while since you last pitched in a game. How do you need to adjust or do things differently, if you do, when it’s been nearly a two-week layoff between starts? ANIBAL SANCHEZ: Back to the outing when I threw against Dodgers, was the same amount of day that I didn’t pitch before that day. I threw against Phillies two weeks before that game so now we understand the same amount of days.
I just think most of the time, like right now probably you need to rest because I’ve been throwing baseball since February, probably January. So right now it’s not something that’s going to affect you.
So for me, I’m fine with the rest.
Q. When you struggled with Detroit in ’16 and ’17, was there ever a point that you were worried about the state of your career that you would even get a job in 2018? ANIBAL SANCHEZ: Yes. Those years wasn’t easy for me, wasn’t a great moment. Something that, I don’t want to say I don’t want to remember. I working hard those years, too.
But you know what, the result wasn’t there. And for me, I just taking one more year was last year, 2018. And they give me the opportunity to be here right now. For me, my offseason ’17 and ’18 was, I don’t want to quit if I don’t try my best.
So I remember I sign with the Twins and I got released, and after that I say, Okay, whatever happens is going to happen, I don’t going to force anything. I got an opportunity with the Braves and show that I can still pitch on this level, and now I’m here.
Q. Some Latin players throughout the Major Leagues at times have taken issue with the Trump administration’s policies. With President Trump’s announcement today he plans to come to Game 5, do you have any issues or do you think any players will have any issues with that? ANIBAL SANCHEZ: He’s the president of this country. If he want to come to the game, it’s something that he want to do. Of course everybody has to respect that situation.
I don’t want to attack him like I got something against. I’m following the president, like you say, I’m from Venezuela, I’m out of this country, but then I respect all those situations. And like I say, he’s the president and if he want to come, why no?
Q. When you pitched in the third game of a series, how much does it help you to see the Astros live in Houston? Does that help you prepare for the third game as it would maybe in the regular season? ANIBAL SANCHEZ: For me always baseball is really hard especially because it’s no, like, you spend three days watching this guy. I think I spend like a month watching like everybody on the playoff situation to see who is going to be the matchup.
It’s not about a specific day. Tomorrow is another day. Everything is going to be different; weather, field, many games, end of October, pressure, exciting. All those situations it’s really hard to control every single day but tomorrow it’s going to be my day. I just prepared like big — like focus and try to execute every pitch to give a good game for the team.
Q. You’re coming back from tough times, and finally you are going to the mound in the World Series. What do you think of this opportunity? ANIBAL SANCHEZ: Blessing. I feel really, really blessing. Thank God that I got this opportunity. Without him I don’t think that I was here. Yeah, it was tough moment of my career but most of the people think for me 2016 and ’17 was tough for me. Before that like ten years I go after ’16 and ’17 for me I wasn’t on the top situation of my life. And it’s no compare. Lose a game. Win a game. It’s part of the pitchers. It’s part of the game. Some you have to lose, some you have to win.
You carry for a year, so you see what the adjustment you have to make for getting better. But at the end, yeah, thank God that I got this opportunity right now.
Q. You’ve obviously played for a lot of managers, just wondering what’s maybe the strongest skill that Davey has. Also he’s a guy that learned Spanish later on in life. How impressive is his Spanish? Is it good? ANIBAL SANCHEZ: It’s good. It’s really good. He’s got really good Spanish. He can communicate in that language perfectly. I think he can express better than in Spanish than I am in English. He’s really good. He’s really good. Dave, he’s special. He’s special.
Q. Were you and Max Scherzer aware of the history that you were repeating going deep in a postseason game with a no-hitter intact. I’m curious how you were watching his start the other night gutting through in Game 1, if that puts extra pressure on you or anything you were thinking about in the dugout? ANIBAL SANCHEZ: Like am I going to feel pressure for tomorrow? I answered that question the other day. I don’t feel pressure right now. I don’t know what going to happen tomorrow. Tomorrow is a day when you’ve got a game situation, like a game plan and everything. Everything change so much.
Right now I’m anxious to get on the field. But at the moment the game start it’s another thing. You focus on what you have to do, what pitch you have to execute. What hitter you’re going to face. And back to the way the check Scherzer you pitching back-to-back games, no-hitter for six-plus innings, is something we’ll talk about that later after the whole situation. But we didn’t imagine that we’d done that.
So at the end for me has to pass a lot of things back to this situation, like I’m in the Game 1 and he in Game 2. Because if I don’t remember — if I don’t mind — if a reliever was a reliever on the Game 2 on the Dodgers, I don’t pitch the Game 3. So he going to pitch the Game 3. So everything change after that. So I don’t think it’s coincidence. I think it’s something between Scherzer and I on those kind of games.
Q. We talked about ’16 and ’17, but this year didn’t start exactly how you wanted it either. And you land on the IL. What was your mindset when you hit the IL and what has allowed you to have such a successful rest of the season? ANIBAL SANCHEZ: If you watch the whole game that happened early in the season when I was pitching, everything was there. Everything was the same, until I came to the IL. Couple of errors, couple base hits, couple situations, couple running on base. Those little things change a lot. Like I remember that I lost four games, 2-0, 2-1, so those games. But I got like an injury with my leg. I remember I didn’t pitch for like 10, 12 day before my first game of the season. I got hit on the leg. A lot of things going on on the team early in the season for me to compete harder for the second half. But I didn’t do something like special, like I try to figure out what I had done before the IL and after. Everything was the same.
Q. So as you know, there have been a lot of managers before you here, this team has had a lot of trouble in October. Now you’re coming home as the manager of the team that’s finally here and gets to bring the World Series to Nationals Park. What does that mean to you, and has that hit you, and what do you think, from your perspective, that’s allowed you to be the guy that’s able to do that? DAVE MARTINEZ: I truly believe, first and foremost, I have to thank this organization for giving me the opportunity to actually be here. And it’s been exciting. This year, as you know, has been — had our downs. But we’re upbeat right now, playing really well.
But for me what allows me to be me is the guys in that clubhouse, really. They pulled together all year. Like I said, we had some adversity, but it built character and they believe what we’re doing is the right thing and they’re playing really well, and they’re all excited.
Q. Do you have a Game 4 starter definitively? DAVE MARTINEZ: Yes, I do. It’s Corbin.
Q. With AnIbal pitching, what kind of flexibility has that given you in terms of Patrick in the bullpen, maybe flipping those guys? DAVE MARTINEZ: It’s been huge. And like I said, everybody talks about our big three, but AnIbal has pitched unbelievable since he came off the aisle all year long. He gives us a chance to win ball games every outing.
Game 3, to me, is no — it wasn’t a hard decision for me to say that he’s going to be our Game 3 starter. As we all know, he pitched Game 1 for us and came up huge. He’s up to it.
Like I said before, he’s got great command of all his pitches, which is a lot. Hopefully he goes out and keeps us in the ball game and we have a chance to win again.
Q. During the ALCS Zack Greinke was subject to a lot of abuse from the New York fans, so much so police were called and a couple of fans were ejected. Any concern that Greinke, who has that social disorder, is going to face a lot of hostility from the Nats fans? DAVE MARTINEZ: I don’t know what the Nats fans are going to be like. I know they’re going to be loud. I know it’s going to be exciting here. They waited for a long time for this opportunity.
I can’t control that kind of stuff. We know that they’re going to be loud.
Q. How do you think coming back here to National League rules and playing three days in a row impacts your bullpen, your lineup with no DH, that sort of thing? DAVE MARTINEZ: You know, obviously we’ve been a National League team so we understand what we need to do. I don’t think it really impacts our bullpen the way that they’ve been used.
So for us, it’s just, and for me and the coaching staff, we prepare like another game here in the National League with the pitcher, so we have enough guys that can pinch-hit, we have enough guys in the bullpen. We’ll see how the game goes and work the game out accordingly.
Q. As you know, last winter you guys talked with Bryce Harper when he was a free agent then he went elsewhere. You didn’t need to go outside to replace him; you had three guys ready to go in the outfield. How much easier did that make the waiting last winter and then his ultimate departure? DAVE MARTINEZ: For me, Bryce chose to go elsewhere. But the guys we’ve had, we knew that we had the right guys to be able to step in and do the job, we really did. I mean, a healthy Adam Eaton, as you all know, you can see what he can do. We have a young center fielder in Victor Robles that’s had an opportunity to play every day this year, and has done well. And a 20-year-old that’s going to be 21 here in a day or two that’s been unbelievable.
So coming into Spring Training, we knew if these guys were healthy, they were going to be very productive.
Q. Have you figured out a birthday present yet? DAVE MARTINEZ: I hope he gets me a birthday present.
Q. For those of us who weren’t in Houston, what was the moment like for Zimmerman in Game 1 when he hit the home run, and do you think he has another moment up his sleeve for the home fans here? DAVE MARTINEZ: It was an incredible moment. Just imagine, we’re in Houston, we’re down, they play really well at home. We’re down 2-0. Gerrit Cole is on the mound and all of a sudden two outs and here comes Zimm and hits a bomb. I mean, literally got into one.
To be the first guy who we all consider is the captain and who’s waited a lot of years to be in this spot, this moment, for him to obviously hit that first home run for us and get us going, you should have seen our dugout. It was electric when he did that. And I’ll admit that I got teary-eyed for him.
It was an unbelievable feeling. We sat there and we had a moment together where he goes, That was incredible. And I said, Well, don’t stop now, you know, keep going. He’s swinging the bat well. He said, Oh, no, this is going to be a lot of fun. I know he was excited.
Q. At the end of the NLCS, have you had any chance to go around town, any interaction with fans, what’s that been like, have you had a chance to kind of get a sense what it means to people in the city here? DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, it’s been unbelievable, it really has. As you know, I travel by scooter everywhere around. And now — before I used to wear my hat and nobody really — and now wherever I stop — as a matter of fact, sometimes people just come up and smack me on the back, Nice going, nice going, Davey. I’m like, Hey. So it’s always, Hello, great job.
But it’s been overwhelming. The fans have bought in and it’s been great. And I know apparently yesterday almost 15,000 people here watching us play. I can’t wait until tomorrow. This place — I said it before, this place gets really loud and it’s electric. So I know the boys are excited to play.
Q. I know that winners are not going to be announced for a while. Can you talk about Juan Soto and Victor Robles as Gold Glove finalists. DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, I truly believe they should win it. I told you this before, I looked at the numbers and I know Soto has played a lot better out there. When I looked at his numbers, I thought, Man, he has a really legitimate chance to win.
Kudos to them. Those two guys work unbelievably hard every day out there. And Bob Henley deserves a lot of credit for going out there and taking them out every day and making sure they get their work in.
Q. You mentioned An�bal’s resurgence after he came off the IO. What was it you saw him change or refine that allowed him to go on this run that he’s on? DAVE MARTINEZ: We talked a lot about his mechanics, staying in his legs a little bit, being more exact, more conviction with his pitches, and staying down in the zone. But more using his legs a little bit better. And he’s been really good.
And I think it’s actually helped him. Because he’s had some hamstring issues, as we al know, and it’s kind of helped his hamstring a little bit.
Q. I know you go with the “1-0 every day” mentality. How much of a challenge is it here in the next day or two to keep this from becoming — in the city it will be you’re up 2-0, people are going to expect you to finish this off. How do you keep that from seeping in and make sure that the next couple of days are all business and not looking ahead to what could happen in the next couple of days? DAVE MARTINEZ: We talked about this yesterday about complacency. I don’t think our guys would ever do that, but we said, Hey, we’ve still got a lot of baseball left. We’ve just got to focus on today and go home, rest and get ready to play and go 1-0 again. That’s been the message all year. We don’t try to get ahead of ourselves.
These guys need to understand the focus on the here and now and do the little things. That’s what’s got us here. And we’ve got to continue to do that.
Q. Is there anything that you and the coaches have instilled — talked yesterday about this a little bit, in the two-strike and two-out approach for the guys at the plate. Any changes in that approach throughout the course of the season? DAVE MARTINEZ: We talked about that a lot early on in the season how — and I truly believe, and I said this yesterday, I’m not a fan of strikeouts. And I don’t like it. We talked about it and I wanted these guys to understand that putting the ball in play with two strikes, regardless if you get a hit or not is huge because anything can happen. The only thing that happens when you strike out is you put your head down, you walk to the dugout and put your bat in the bat rack. That doesn’t do anybody good.
We talk about how to become a better teammate. That’s part of it. Put the ball in play, make things happen, and as you know, we did that yesterday really well.
Q. A lot has been made this postseason about your bullpen. But do you think it benefits you guys how much of their bullpen you saw, especially yesterday? DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, it definitely helps when you can get — see their bullpen. This way you know in a long series like that you know who you’re going to face, if you face them again, and what they have.
But I’m going to say something about our bullpen. Our bullpen has been criticized, but guess what, we’re in the World Series with our bullpen. A lot of those guys have stepped up. I’ve asked them to do things that they weren’t be comfortable doing, and they did it. We put guys in situations early where we knew the back end of the bullpen, we asked them to pitch the eighth and ninth inning. That’s not easy. And they did it. And at this point they’ve learned.
And whenever I give them an opportunity to pitch, for the most part now they get big outs for us. And they’re ready to take the ball whenever I ask them to.
Q. I want to take you back to Monday. Who wrote the initial statement that was disseminated from your organization, who approved it, and what was your initial investigation that led you to believe this story was fabricated? JEFF LUHNOW: Well, first of all, thank you all for your time.
As you know, we released a statement, and in that statement we said a couple of things. First of all, apologies to Stephanie and to the rest of the people that were involved in the incident.
We have separated with Brandon Taubman, he’s no longer an employee of the Astros. His behavior was inappropriate and not representative of who the Astros are and our culture and what we stand for.
That original reaction by the Astros was wrong, and we own it as an organization. There were many people involved in reviewing that and approving that. And I’m not going to get into the details of that.
It was wrong. It was the Astros’ decision and that’s where I’m going to leave that.
Q. Was that original statement, was that composed by one person or by a group of people? JEFF LUHNOW: Like I said, I know you all are curious to see who wrote it and who approved it. And it was an organizational statement. There was nobody’s name on it. There were a lot of people involved in reviewing it, looking at it, approving it. It was on behalf of the Astros.
But regardless of who wrote it and who approved it, it was wrong, it was incorrect. It should never have been sent out. We’ve learned a lesson about it.
We had a sense of what had happened that was different than what we found out pretty immediately afterwards but we wanted to wait and make further statements that were correct and not sort of react again to new information. Because, quite frankly, not all of the information that was received at the beginning, even in the middle, even at the end, is consistent with the other information.
So there are some varying degrees of detail recollection of who was where and all of that, as you would imagine after a long night. So it’s not a hundred percent clear what the truth is, but what we do know is the truth is that those comments weren’t appropriate. They were directed at individuals and that’s inappropriate, and we weren’t going to tolerate that.
Q. I think you just said you’re not quite sure what the truth is? JEFF LUHNOW: No, I’m not saying I don’t know what the truth is. There’s a lot of details when you’re trying to reconstruct what happened in an evening like that.
The truth is that Brandon made inappropriate comments directed at people that were in the room, and they’re not something that we stand for, that reflect our values or that we’re going to tolerate, which is why it led us to the decision we made today.
Q. I know you don’t want to say who wrote the statement, who came up with the idea, but I think a lot of people in this room are probably interested in sort of the mindset behind blaming the reporter for making up this story. You said you didn’t want to say who came up with this idea but can you just talk about the mindset that you would turn around a statement pretty quickly pointing a finger at the female reporter in the room. JEFF LUHNOW: Yeah, I can tell you it was wrong. The belief was that it was one colleague talking to another colleague and having been overheard and it was not intended to be overheard. We discovered later that that was indeed not the case. And that’s wrong.
But, no, there’s no — it was incorrect to make that first statement. There’s nothing about that first statement that was correct or that’s defensible. And we take accountability for it, we take ownership of it, and it was wrong.
Q. You said it was two colleagues that were overheard, but you said that the reporter made up the story — (no microphone.) JEFF LUHNOW: I’m not defending that first statement and I don’t want to parse the words in that first statement. It was incorrect, it was wrong. And we stand by it as an organization that it was incorrect, it was wrong, and that’s all we can really say at this point.
I know you want more but I can’t really give you more.
Q. The investigational interviews were conducted by the Astros, by Major League Baseball. In discussing discipline or resolution of this, did Major League Baseball have any input? JEFF LUHNOW: Many of the interviews were done jointly. Some of the interviews were done independently. The Astros had done some interviews independently and Major League Baseball did interviews independently, and some were done jointly.
We decided once we had — once the interviews were concluded yesterday that we were going to take action unilaterally ahead of Major League Baseball making any recommendations, and that’s what we did.
Q. Can you talk about how embarrassing this is to you and the Astro organization? JEFF LUHNOW: It’s not what I want to be here talking about. And hopefully when AJ gets in here, he’ll get back to talking about Game 3 and this series.
It’s unfortunate timing and it’s an unfortunate stage for this to occur, but it’s wrong — the comments that were made were incorrect, regardless of whether it was on a big stage or not.
So we stand by the decision that we made today.
Q. And back to that initial statement which, I know you are not going to give us much details about, did you play any role in that initial statement directly or indirectly? JEFF LUHNOW: I saw it before it went out. And there’s a lot of people that saw it before it went out. So in that respect, yes, I did.
Q. You just said you hope when AJ gets here we can talk about Game 3. Seems that part of the origin of this whole thing was Brandon’s refusal to accept people who wanted to still voice their protest about the acquisition of Osuna. Are you at peace with the idea that this is a permanent stand from the Houston Astros and on your legacy, what has transpired these last few days? JEFF LUHNOW: This was an employee that I hired and that’s worked for us for five years who did something that was out of character for him, not consistent with his behavior in the past. That is not something that we condone or not reflective of what the Astros culture is all about or what we believe in.
Yeah, of course, any one person that belongs to an organization that does something is going to affect that organization. But this is not something that’s endemic. This is not a cultural issue. We have a lot of really good people in our front office, in our coaching staff, and our team. And that’s really much more representative of who we are than comments of an individual who, quite frankly, this is out of character for that individual as well.
Q. But than the statement, Brandon did not craft that statement, it goes beyond just one person. Is that fair? A. Yeah, the organization has to own that statement. And I’ve said that. And as an organization we apologize for it, and that’s really all I can give you at this point.
Q. In terms of accountability that you’re talking about, how in the world could, from that time until now, only your manager have been made available publicly? JEFF LUHNOW: We were cooperating with Major League Baseball in doing an investigation and going as quickly as we possibly can.
As you know, I did make some comments yesterday morning on the radio, and they were different than the statement. And I did apologize. And even though reporters chose to pick parts of that comment that were not the apology and put that as their headlines, I did apologize. I apologized to everybody involved. And at that point I had more information and I knew that that initial statement was correct. But we were halfway through the investigation and I wasn’t going to make a statement in terms of actions or anything further than just an apology and that we’re cooperating with MLB in looking into it.
I know that it felt like a long time, the news cycle is very quick, but we acted as quickly as we could and we made a determination last night and made an announcement today.
Q. Today’s statement has an apology to Stephanie Apstein. Is the apology for her having to witness this incident or is the apology for you guys, the Astros, smearing her initial report? JEFF LUHNOW: The apology is for both. It’s for having to witness the incident and it’s to the other reporters that were there and anybody who felt offended or that the comments were directed at them. And it certainly was also for the reaction that the Astros had immediately after the article was published, which was inappropriate and wrong. And we apologize for that.
Q. How many people were interviewed prior to the first statement that was issued and how many people ended up being interviewed before the statement that was issued today? JEFF LUHNOW: So as you read in today’s statement, it was not only the perspective of the person that was being accused but one corroborating witness that saw things basically that supported what he was telling us. It wasn’t an investigation. So I’m not going to call it an investigation. It was just the information that we had quickly.
There were a number of people that were — anybody who was in the room within earshot that was around was ultimately interviewed, and I don’t know the exact number. I wasn’t involved in the interviews, but it’s more than a few.
Q. Why was it important for you to issue a statement so quickly after the story appeared? JEFF LUHNOW: I think when a story comes out that’s negative you have two choices: You either respond immediately if you think it’s potentially not true; or you wait and figure out what the facts are and then respond. And we made the wrong decision, we responded quickly thinking that it was not true. And it turned out that that was an incorrect way to go about it.
Q. There seems to be a conflation of two things that happened; one was what Brandon did that night and one was how you guys reacted. For what Brandon did he lost his job today. For the other thing, if we’re not here right now, for what you just said was not even an investigation you smeared and potentially damaged a person’s career. Shouldn’t there be a price paid for the people who decided that that was the idea in the way that Brandon Taubman just had to pay with his career? JEFF LUHNOW: I don’t know the answer to that, to be honest with you.
Q. You’re one of the people who runs the organization. JEFF LUHNOW: I run the baseball operations, as you know.
Q. Well, Jim Crane hasn’t come today, Jeff. JEFF LUHNOW: I understand that. And we’re taking responsibility and accountability for that and apologizing for it. And at this point that’s all I can tell you. I don’t have anything else to give you. Sorry about that.
Q. You said there were a number of people with the statement and all that. My question is, will there be further disciplinary action other than what’s already been taken? JEFF LUHNOW: You know, the person that was responsible for making those inappropriate comments has been terminated from employment with the Astros. And that’s the action that we’ve taken at this point. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future.
Q. You thought so highly of him, didn’t you just extend him a new contract? JEFF LUHNOW: Yeah. He’s been a valuable employee. We hired him over five years ago, he’s moved up quickly in the organization. He’s smart. He’s hard working. And these comments that he made were out of character. He hasn’t had this type of incident before. This is not a repeating pattern of anything, which is why it was so easy for — one reason why it was so easy for us to believe that it was more innocent than it turned out to be.
Q. This is an emotional game. Emotions swing back and forth. What was it like for you emotionally to find out what had happened to one of your prized employees? JEFF LUHNOW: It’s devastating. It’s not something that I wish on anybody in this room. Just like I don’t wish any of you to be standing up here having to answer these questions, either.
But it’s part of life. And we learn our lessons from it. And Brandon, I’m sure, has learned a lesson and hopefully will never do anything like that again. And I think everybody that observed it has also learned a lesson. And we as an organization have certainly learned a lesson about taking our time to react and making sure that we don’t do anything to make the situation worse, because that’s essentially what we did.
Q. To go back to your answer a few minutes ago, just for clarity sake, between the time the story came out and the first statement, you only interviewed Taubman and one other Astros employee? JEFF LUHNOW: I wouldn’t say “interviewed” because it’s not a — we weren’t doing an investigation. We did have some warning that the article was coming out, didn’t know what the details of it were. So we had an opportunity to ask a few people who we knew were in the room what their observations were. And that was the extent of it, including the person that we knew was going to be accused of saying inappropriate things.
Q. On the radio you said yesterday that there were different perspectives about that incident. How could that square with the sentiment you’re giving right now about how sorry you are for what happened? JEFF LUHNOW: I’m very sorry. Different perspectives because the original impression that we had, without doing an investigation, and that’s our fault for not doing the investigation, was that it was two colleagues talking who were overheard and the comments were not directed at anybody in particular, not meant to be mean spirited in any way or offensive in any way; just supportive of the player who had had a bad night. That’s the one perspective.
And obviously the other perspective is that those comments were inappropriate, and said over and over and louder and intended to be heard. That’s what I was talking about, just different points of view about what happened.
But as we continued to investigate, it was clear that they were intended to be heard. And they were completely inappropriate. They were inappropriate anyway. But supporting a player is not inappropriate; but supporting it in order to make someone feel something negative, that is inappropriate.
Q. (No microphone.) JEFF LUHNOW: No, I didn’t want to talk — we were still — I didn’t do the interviews; right? I was waiting for the conclusion. But I had gotten some more information myself and at that point, I knew that the story we had heard originally was very different than the story that I was now hearing. Simple as that.
Q. Have you personally reached out to apologize to any of the women who were directly impacted by this? And also do you feel that in some ways this has set back some of the supposed progress that women have made in the clubhouse and the locker room? JEFF LUHNOW: I can’t answer that second question. There’s a lot of really talented female journalists in baseball and other sports, and in journalism in general, and I hope that continues. There’s no reason to think that this is a setback, I hope.
I have not — I have been traveling up here. We’ve been — I had to have a pretty tough conversation this morning with someone that’s worked with me for a long time. But I will as soon as I can.
Q. You had a big moment here a couple of years ago with the All-Star Game. With your family’s history with Washington, what’s the significance of you to come back here and play here with your dad being here and all the family ties? ALEX BREGMAN: Yeah, it’s going to be a lot of fun. I mean, anytime you play in the World Series, no matter where it is, it’s a lot of fun. So I think my family’s going to definitely have a blast being back at home. But can’t wait for tomorrow.
Q. Correa said last night that a bunch of you guys talked things through. What was the message that some of the vets wanted to share with each other moving forward in the series? ALEX BREGMAN: Just players-only meeting.
Q. There’s been some discussion today about the concept of pressure in baseball. If there is pressure involved in tomorrow’s game is it self-imposed or is it basically applied by the team you’re playing against and the circumstances that you face? ALEX BREGMAN: I think we’re going to come out tomorrow and try to apply pressure. When we play our best baseball we apply pressure.
Q. (No microphone.) ALEX BREGMAN: No, we just want to win.
Q. You guys have four Gold Glove finalists on this team, yourself included. How important is stable defense in terms of getting back in the series? ALEX BREGMAN: I think it’s very important. We want to back up our pitchers, play better defense behind them.
Q. Runners in scoring position has been an issue in the playoffs. What are some of the areas that you think the team has really under performed in that have to get turned around while you’re here the next couple of days? ALEX BREGMAN: We’ve just got to do a better job. And that’s baseball. You go through stretches throughout the season where you don’t swing the bat or pitch or play defense the way you want to play it. I think it takes one day to stop the bleeding. You play good one game the bleeding stops. Panic stops. You start playing the way you want to play.
Q. You guys won 107 regular season games, as I’m sure you’re aware. You were heavy favorites coming into this series. You’re in a 0-2 hole. Can you put a finger on what has happened the first two games that has brought you to this position here? ALEX BREGMAN: We were outplayed for two straight games. We try and stop the bleeding tomorrow. And we stop the bleeding tomorrow it’s going to be a lot of fun the rest of the series. I think that’s the biggest thing, just stop the bleeding.
Q. Donald Trump said today he’d be attending a Game 5. You have to win at least a game. Do you have any thoughts on the President being here potentially in a Game 5? ALEX BREGMAN: No.
Q. I believe you mentioned once that you have a grandfather that is Puerto Rican, can you explain or give details about that? ALEX BREGMAN: My step-grandfather on my dad’s side is Puerto Rican.
Q. You’ve been in the World Series once before and I know it’s going different than the last time. Can you put in perspective what this team is facing right now? I know you don’t want to be in this situation, you’d rather be where the Nationals are, up 2-0. What is the team facing right now? ALEX BREGMAN: It faces An�bal S�nchez tomorrow, a really good pitcher. And we’ve just got to go out and stop the bleeding tomorrow. That’s the only thing we can focus on. We can’t focus on anything else. Whatever happened before, it’s over with. All we’ve got to do is win Game 3.
Q. Can you just talk about the mood right now? I know you’re not going to declare victory, you still have to win four games. But winning two in Houston has to be very important in your mind. Tell us how you’re feeling right now, the confidence level.
ANTHONY RENDON: It’s just way down in here, it just doesn’t come out a lot.
Yeah, like you said, we know the series isn’t over. I think it would have been a success if we only came in and stole one game, obviously, playing at this stage and playing with the crowd and at their home-field. But for us to obviously steal two games from them at their home-field is great.
But like you say, we still have a job to finish and we have two more to go.
KURT SUZUKI: Yeah, like he said, it’s nice to come in here and get a couple of wins, face a couple of great pitchers. Able to come out on top. And really, we’re just looking to get back home in front of our fans and worrying about winning the next pitch, winning the next inning. So getting ready.
Q. Kurt, the swing you put on Verlander in the 7th, and also how you have observed Stephen’s ability to finish his outings this year strongly and get through them as he did tonight?
KURT SUZUKI: Yes, Stras, obviously the little hiccup there in the first. Made a good pitch. You tip your hat, the guy is a great hitter and he hit it out.
But the thing about Stras is he’s really grown in that way where he don’t let things like that bother him. He just moves on to the next pitch, gets the next out, moves on, gave us five shutout after that, gave us a chance to win the ball game. And it was great.
As for the hit, I can’t remember the last time I barreled a ball up like that. It felt great. It felt like months ago. Probably was months ago. It felt great.
Just the fact to help the team out any way I can, whatever it was. We get some runs on the board and we were able to put some runs up in the later part of the innings, and it was good.
Q. Anthony, what made you guys so successful with two outs hitting tonight? Obviously you guys have done that all year. And I know that’s Davey’s philosophy when he comes in and explains that he doesn’t like strikeouts, what’s your impression of that?
ANTHONY RENDON: If we could pinpoint one certain thing, man, I think it might just be our resilience. And like you said, Davey emphasized in Spring Training he doesn’t like strikeouts. If we are striking out then obviously we’re not giving ourselves a chance to get on base, we’re just getting ourselves out, and obviously we’re not making the defense work.
So we have some speed at the top of the order so if we can run balls out and put some pressure on the defense any way possible. Even Zimm today, he was running some balls out, that old guy. It was great to be able to be put some balls in play and limit our strikeouts as much as we can, and just try to scratch any kind of run we can get.
Q. Being one of the leaders in the clubhouse, what have you and others said at the beginning of this postseason? A lot of people didn’t predict you all to be where you are right now, up 2-0 in the World Series. What has the mindset been since the beginning of the playoffs?
ANTHONY RENDON: I’d go back further than just the postseason, for sure, when everyone started doubting us probably the middle of the year when everyone goes back to 1931. But even when they were saying that, We need to fire Davey, or We need to trade so and so, or We need to clean house, clean the front office out, whatever it might be.
I think then it was kind of where we got our attitude and said, Screw everybody else, we’re not worrying about what’s going outside of our clubhouse. We have to worry about the 25 guys that are in here and that are actually grinding.
No offense, but nobody outside of that clubhouse knows the work that we put in each and every day and the amount of time that we’re away from our families and the sacrifices that we have to make. So that’s been our attitude for a while now.
Q. Kurt, two questions. The 3-2 pitch to Correa in the 6th that he popped up looked like a changeup from up in the zone, can you describe that pitch? And second, your thoughts on being the first player born in Hawaii to hit a home run in the World Series?
KURT SUZUKI: Yeah, it was a big pitch for Stras. He just — any pitch anytime. He’s got so many weapons to get you out with. He’s got command. He can really spin the ball. You never really know what pitch is coming, because he can throw any pitch up at any time. If he changes up his patterns we do a good job of sequencing right and it becomes tough for the hitters. I think in that situation right there runners in scoring position, a great hitter like Correa, you try not to give in. And we tried to change up our patterns. We had him a couple of times 3-2, and I think we went different ways each time. Tried to mix it up, popped it up, and it was great.
And obviously the homer was great. I think anytime you can help the team out any way you can offensively, defensively, it doesn’t matter, do one thing to help the team win and good things will happen.
Q. I just want to go back to May 24th when you said everyone was pretty much burying you guys. At that point you had a .01 percent chance of winning the pennant and here you are 2-0 in the World Series. When you see those types of headlines, and it sounds like you did see them, what’s your mentality and now given all that, what’s your philosophy on “odds”?
ANTHONY RENDON: I think we’ve kind of defied the odds at this point. And we don’t pay too much attention to them. Obviously we read about it or hear about it because it becomes exploited and obviously we’re in the city and we have all the news outlets saying all these things. But we just try to stay together as a team and that’s all we really could do. We had nothing to lose at that point. We had .01 chance to lose, I guess, we had that much left. But we were just, hey, screw it, let’s go out and have some fun and play ball and whatever it was, something clicked and it turned around and we’ve been trying to ride that wave ever since and keep on just going.
Q. Kurt, how surprised were you to see Altuve try to steal in the first? And Anthony, how big was Kurt’s home run in the 7th to get things going?
KURT SUZUKI: You know, I don’t really get surprised when guys try to run on me. 36 years old, I’m getting old now. I know they like to run. They like to steal third. They like to put the pressure on the defense. And I think we had a little bit of a shift going on there, so Anthony kind of put it in the hole a little bit and it’s kind of like a football pass, you have to try to lead them to the bag. You can’t rush it, because you have to give him time and you can’t throw it too low, because he’ll be running trying to catch it a shoe top. You just try to play catch with him and lucky enough he made a great tag and we got him out which obviously saved us a run, because Bregman hit that homer out there.
ANTHONY RENDON: Yeah, his homer was awesome. Obviously it got that inning started. And I’m not going to lie that — a couple of bats before, was it a slider you had just missed?
KURT SUZUKI: Yes.
ANTHONY RENDON: I had a feeling he might hit a home run here. He misses it just a little bit, maybe I was a couple of bats behind. I was trying to steal a homer from him earlier in the game. He’s been doing that all year for us. He’s been coming up clutch and having big hits like that. We talk about how he came into the season, going to be platooning and not playing too often. Like he said, he’s 36 years old, he’s had a lot more ABs than anticipated and it’s good, he’s been continuing to help us win ball games.
Q. You’ve talked about the grind of a long season. Like you said you’re a young guy here, a young catcher here. How is the feeling now being this close to a couple of games from winning the World Series, is it all worthwhile if you get to this point and feel the way you do physically and just to push through it?
KURT SUZUKI: Yeah, it feels great. I’ve waited 13 season for this moment to be able to play in the World Series. I kind of joked with a lot of the guys, Anthony in the training room, now I’ve got energy now, this is the last series of the season now, no matter what. We’re playing for it now. If you can’t get up for these games I think you’re in the wrong sport, you should retire or something, because this is it. You obviously see all the media and the coverage that you get for the World Series. It kind of pumps you up and especially waiting how long I did to get to play in a World Series game, to advance past the first round of the postseason it’s awesome. We’re just looking forward to the next game. Obviously we know what’s at stake. We’re not looking too far in the future. We know to keep our eye on the target, come out, just be 1-0 the next day and go from there.
Q. Does it get easier for you now going back to DC now that — leaving your hometown, ticket requests and things like that, media requests, is there a lot more pressure off of you now going home?
ANTHONY RENDON: I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s pressure. But it’s definitely been overwhelming to say the least. I don’t show too much emotion but it has been a lot to handle. And I don’t know if I could be able to play here 162 games in a year. But I think I wish I had like twist it to look at the positive side of it. If my family and I didn’t have is that many people hitting us up, maybe our support level isn’t that high. So the fact that people are showing us so much love as a family being here that means we have a great support group here and it’s something to be thankful for.
Q. Going into the seventh inning, 2-2 game, and they score 6 runs and that game gets completely out of hand. What happened in that inning from your perspective?
AJ HINCH: Where would you like me to start? The lead-off homer? That’s what happened. It started with the lead-off homer and then a tough at-bat with Robles. Thought we got him out but didn’t get the call. And then I brought Press in to throw some sliders to Turner, give him a different look the fourth time through the order. That led to a walk. Rendon got out, which of all the guys that are going to get out, Rendon getting out is nice for us. And then set up the intentional walk with Soto.
And soft contact for the rest of that inning that we didn’t make a couple of plays and they made contact in big at-bats and the inning spiraled out of control.
Q. In that inning, even though in the 6th the offensive situation called for the pinch-hitter, given that Justin had thrown every pitch to Chirinos this year, was it a difficult decision to pinch-hit there?
AJ HINCH: I’m trying to win the game. So, no. First off, Maldonado has caught him before and I doubt that had anything to do with the fastball to Suzuki. You have to ask Justin if it bothered him. With Tucker coming up in that spot, Strasburg is at the end of his rope. Try to win the game.
Q. The intentional walk in that situation, a virtual no-brainer?
AJ HINCH: I’ve watched Soto just like you have. We see the downside of it. Clearly I think there’s a lot of downside given that I haven’t done it all year.
But ironically I thought it was our best chance to limit their scoring, and instead it poured gasoline on a fire that was already burning.
Q. After the intentional walk, you get the ground ball. Just how frustrating is that?
AJ HINCH: Yeah, anytime Alex gets to it I expect him to make the play, he expects to make it. It was just a little bit out of his reach where he couldn’t catch it cleanly. And that kind of turned the entire inning. Then Cabrera gets the base hit to center and then Zimmerman hits the 50-foot ground ball.
Again, contact is your friend in these situations. They did a good job of making contact against Press. I thought he made some really good pitches.
But clearly that inning didn’t go that way nor did the next inning nor did the next inning after that.
Q. With the intentional walk, obviously an exceptional situation, but was this the first time you even considered it all season?
AJ HINCH: No, no, we have Mike Trout in our division, and we faced Christian Yelich, he was in the building. So maybe that’s what talked me into it. I don’t know.
Q. Verlander has given up some first-inning runs during the postseason, and his velocity was about the same starting out the inning. Does it take him a while to get going?
AJ HINCH: I think I just noticed him facing their best hitters. We stack our lineups nowadays from the get-go. And they put together some pretty good hits. I think Rendon’s two-strike on the change-up base hit off the wall was really the big swing. It looked like he was fooled a little bit and yet still stayed through the ball and got the ball off the fence.
A little bit of the quality of the hitters. I think most kind of big, elite physical pitchers may have a little trouble getting into the game. But JV has been exceptional the entire season, including the first inning. We have seen it in this playoffs, have a little bit of trouble in the first. But these are really good teams. From the get-go when they put pressure on you you’re usually facing a pretty good guy every time up.
Q. They came into your stadium and beat your aces, they’re up 2 in the World Series. Historically it’s rarely happened where a team can come back. How do you rebound from this? You’ve been through some of these situations before, but how do you get your guys to believe they can do this?
AJ HINCH: They have to look around the room. We have a really good team. Clearly, the Nats have outplayed us, bottom line. They came into our building and played two really good games. We’re going to have to try to sleep off the latter third of this game. I don’t want to lump this into a horrible game; it was a horrible three innings for us. Leading up to that it was a pretty good. We pushed Strasburg pretty far, we pushed Scherzer pretty far.
They’re halfway to a race to four wins. Clearly, Game 3 becomes critical for us. We’re going to get on a plane, we’re going to go to Washington. I doubt the Nats are going to feel too confident that they have this sewed up and they can start planning the parade. We’re going to give them a fight for it.
Q. Jose’s decision to try to steal third. Thoughts about that?
AJ HINCH: Feast or famine; right? I think we wanted to put pressure on Strasburg and he got to second and they’re playing the shift pretty far to shortstop. And I think Rendon did a good job of anticipating Jose being a little aggressive. Suzuki nails a throw. And I think if he slides a little bit later he has a little bit better chance.
It’s one of those plays that you try to stay aggressive. If he gets to third with less than two outs that’s a huge 90 feet. The fact that he doesn’t, he was pretty mad at himself. But I love the aggressiveness. It sucks when it doesn’t work out.
But those plays when you try to push him — luckily Alex picked him up with a homer, and we still tied the game in that inning.
Q. I think you had five at-bats with runners in scoring position. What did you see with the approach of those at-bats?
AJ HINCH: I think our approach has been good. We’re just not winning them. We’re not — and it’s hard. It’s not easy. And these guys — it’s not as simple as saying, Hey, man, get a hit with a runner in scoring position. These guys are getting pitches, we’re having some long at-bats. But we haven’t found the results.
So I think that’s been the frustrating part of this series. I’m not going to drag the ALCS into this. This is about the World Series, but whether you want to credit them or whether you want to put the pressure on us. They’re winning these at-bats and that’s the difference in these games.
Q. The headline coming into this series was about starting pitching and so far it seems like it’s been more tenacious than dominant. Do you think that’s the withering effect of innings, relentless offense, each at-bat?
AJ HINCH: A little bit of both. I think if you walk into these clubhouses and you talk to the position players, they probably don’t take it too kindly that this was supposed to be all about starting pitchers. There’s a side of the game they take great pride in, too.
These are two really good teams full of really great players. Just about when we all predict what this is supposed to be about, the game will show you that you know maybe a little bit less and less the more you’re around it. It’s just the nature of the competition.
I think some hitters are standing up for themselves on both sides. But it doesn’t make it any easier to hit these pitchers. I think all four of the starting pitchers have had to work pretty hard to get through their outings.
Q. Verlander and Cole have been so automatic all year, haven’t lost back-to-back all season. How much more difficult is it to regroup after that?
AJ HINCH: We’ll be fine. We’re a really good team. We have Game 3 in a couple of days. We’ll be fine.
Substitutes Not Used: Brad Stuver, Sebastien Ibeagha, Ben Sweat, Gary Mackay-Steven, Tony Rocha, James Sands
GREG VANNEY, HEAD COACH – TORONTO FC
Thoughts on tonight’s performance…
“It was outstanding. We have a lot of respect for them [NYCFC] as a team. We came in the first half we wanted to eliminate any time they had on the ball and we put a lot into the first half. It’s a small field, we were pressing them, we were making it difficult, we were winning balls, we were attacking again. The only thing that didn’t come out of the first half was a lead. In every other aspect I felt that we just dominated it. Second half started out okay and then they rotated into a diamond, so our matchups started to get a little mixed. It took us a few minutes and we end up giving up a goal to really get that reorganized but I think just before we brought Richie [Laryea] in I think it settled down again. The guys just battled through the moments that weren’t perfect but they also, I thought, they really dominated in the first half and they’re performance. The mentality is really strong with this team, the work rate is really strong, the quality is there, they believe in themselves, and anything is possible when all those things are put together.”
On Alejandro Pozuelo rising to the occasion in tonight’s match…
“He’s had what four PK’s against them [NYCFC] this year? I guess at this point, Sean Johnson has seen a lot of him, with him [Pozuelo] going to that side that Sean [Johnson] went to when he dove twice, he had one save last game. I think that set him up to go down the middle, it’s late in the game, it’s tough for him to stand in the goal. It’s a gutsy play by Poz but he was great on the night. He held up the ball for us, he brought people into the play, he moved around, he fought for things, he helped lead us defensively, he was great.”
On NYCFC’s formation change that caused the play to tilt…
“It was part of it because they [NYCFC] pushed up a second forward. When they pushed up the second forward, it changed our rotation to step out to them defensively. Then we ended up in between, they brought up [Ronald] Matarrita inside, they went to a diamond. So, our matchups weren’t as clean as they were earlier in the game and they were able to find these little pockets of time on us, and they were just running guys through our back line and playing pretty direct. But the directness came from the fact that they had time
MICHAEL BRADLEY, MIDFIELFDER – TORONTO FC
Thoughts on the match…
“The mentality to understand what the game was going to be about. To just go for it. To lay everything we had on the field. That part was incredible. We were on top of the game in every way. Aside from a play or two they could barely get in our hand. It’s a shame we didn’t have something to show for it in the first half. We got a good start to the second half. We get the goal. On one hand, disappointing to drop and let them get back into the game. It’s also the makeup of the playoffs. When it is single elimination, at that point they got 35 minutes left in their season. There is no measured approach at that point in the game. I think we could have done a little bit better on goal. We have played on as many big days in the last few years as any team in this league and we have guys who understand what these games are about, and it showed.”
On building momentum towards the Eastern Conference Finals…
“We talked for the last two or three months about this idea that as the games get bigger, we got to continue to improve, we have to continue to be ready. I think we have done that. We continue to understand that with every game the stakes go up. The competition, the intensity goes up and that can’t take us by surprise. The mentality of the team to come here and play the best team in the league (LAFC aside). That part is special. When you can win games like this, the experience only serves to build the confidence.”
On who he prefers to face next…
“They are both good teams (Atlanta and Philadelphia). Let’s see how that game plays out. It’s the playoffs. Every game is going to be difficult. Every game is going to take a big effort. Game changes depending on who you play. We look forward to it.”
ALEJANDRO POZUELO, MIDFIELDER – TORONTO FC
Thoughts on the match…
“We know before the game we had big test. They try to play good football. I think we had very good options in the first half to set up. Their goalkeeper did good. In the second half it was more difficult because they tried to push more. But we know we needed to wait a little bit. Thank God because we won the game.”
On the penalty kick…
“The keeper knows how I shoot because it is my fourth penalty (against Sean Johnson). Before when I try to shoot a penalty, I try to shoot in the middle. In the 87th minute he cannot stay in the middle. We won 2-1. Very good result. We are very happy.”
On scoring the first goal…
“It was a mistake for the defense. The defender tried to play to the keeper, and we tried to press and finally we scored.”
Q. On May 24th you had a 0.1 percent chance of winning the pennant, and here you are leading 2-0 in the World Series. I’m curious given that, what’s your philosophy on odds?
DAVE MARTINEZ: You know what, I wish I was a betting man, but I’m not. I don’t really believe in that stuff.
What I believe in is hard work, being consistent in what we do, and sticking to our process, and we did that. I said it all along, when this team was down, I felt like we had starting pitching that could keep us in the ball games. And once we got healthy that things would change. We’re here because the boys never gave up.
Q. You talked all year about Stras’s development and his influence in the clubhouse. But specifically how has he improved at finishing outings like he did tonight?
DAVE MARTINEZ: One, he has the confidence to do it. And two, I said this before, he’s become a premier pitcher, a big game pitcher. We’ve seen that. He doesn’t get rattled. He knows what he needs to do. He stays in the moment, which is huge for him. He doesn’t get overly excited when things happen. And he loves the big game. He really does.
Again, you saw it tonight. He battled through some innings and got some huge outs for us.
Q. If you go into the 7th either tied or up one, is that a situation for Patrick Corbin? So I guess that rally, how did that change your approach to the pitching?
DAVE MARTINEZ: You know what, I’m glad I don’t have to think about that, honestly. It worked out perfectly. So we were going to try to stay away from Corbin, though. And it worked out great.
Q. What has it been about your pitching that’s kept the Astros from scoring? They’ve left a lot of runners on base the last two games.
DAVE MARTINEZ: Just making pitches. Making pitches. We talked about coming into this series knowing that these guys don’t chase. They see a lot of pitches. But we have to continue to pound the strike zone and they’re doing that.
Q. Were you surprised to see that intentional walk to Juan Soto?
DAVE MARTINEZ: No. No, he’s seeing the ball really well right now, he’s swinging the bat really well. I had a feeling once first base was open that they’d walk him. But again, that’s okay. We have Howie behind him who’s been unbelievable.
Q. You guys have been good two-out hitters all year. How would you explain today, it seemed like that was on another level? DAVE MARTINEZ: For me, we’ve talked about this a lot when we were struggling, and the strikeouts. I’ve always said this: Strikeouts are not okay, regardless of what people say. I don’t believe in it. There’s nothing comes from it when you strike out, you’re just going to walk back to the dugout. I believe in just putting the ball in play. Things happen when you put the ball in play, regardless. Regardless of whether you get a hit or not. But good things happen when you constantly put the ball in play. And we’ve got better at that. And tonight was a perfect example.
Q. Going with Michael A. Taylor there, how is Vic?
DAVE MARTINEZ: We wanted to give him a break. He came back from that hamstring injury, I thought it would be a good opportunity to take him out and let Michael get in there.
Q. Could you talk to us about Suzuki’s home run? Because it was tied 2-2 going into that inning and all of a sudden a hitter who hadn’t been having that much success in the postseason could get a hit like that off of Verlander.
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, that was huge. And I’m glad he hit the home run. And I’m actually glad that — Stras pitched unbelievable, and he was able to get that win from that.
But Suzuki gives us good at-bats, he’s given us good at-bats all year. He got a good pitch to hit and he put a good swing on it.
Q. Following up on Kurt, clearly you said he had good at-bats, but defensively and what he’s done, he came back from an injury there at the end of the DS.
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, he’s been — both him and Yan has done an unbelievable job with the pitching staff. And we knew that when we got these two guys what they can do. I seen Suzuki from afar playing against him when he was in Atlanta, just handled that pitching staff. And Yan I’ve known for a lot of years, and what he does behind the plate.
But he’s been incredible. He has a game plan, he sticks to the game plan. He’s very adamant about what he wants to do to hitters and he communicates really well with our pitching staff.